Friends of Kiah Hall Committee seek support to rebuild

Friends of Kiah Hall Committee members Ursula Gilomen, Clare McMahon and Terry and Kathy White are hopeful support to rebuild their community hall on the church site will be forthcoming.
Friends of Kiah Hall Committee members Ursula Gilomen, Clare McMahon and Terry and Kathy White are hopeful support to rebuild their community hall on the church site will be forthcoming.

The small community of Kiah lost an immense amount when the Border Fire tore through the locality on January 4, including the historic Kiah Community Hall and Our Lady of the Princes Highway Church.

Tragically, nearly 75 per cent of homes in Kiah were destroyed including stock, vehicles, fences and outbuildings, in addition to the enormous impact on the environment and wildlife, which may never fully recover.

As a community with only 70-80 households, the hall has always acted as a central point for residents, crucial to the community as a place for gathering.

The recently devastated hall was built in 1957, with timber for the floor donated by people from Narrabarba and cut at the mill in Eden, most of the labour done on a voluntary basis by local men and women.

Kiah Hall celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2017 and had just had a commercial kitchen installed last August.

Friends of Kiah Hall Committee has been informed the Catholic Church will not be rebuilt and the land on which it stood, directly adjacent to the hall site, is to be sold.

The committee are eager to secure the land the church stood on, which has mains power and water and is almost an acre in size, and to rebuild the hall on the site.

Committee president Clare McMahon said, "This is a great opportunity to move the hall to a flat piece of ground, it's been estimated rebuilding here would be up to $65,000 cheaper than the old hall site because of the terrain."

The church site would provide better disabled access than the previous site, as well as greater scope for activities around the building and potentially a playground.

The burnt outbuilding which remains on the church site was formerly a single car garage and Ms McMahon said ideally the group would like to see it restored for use.

The Pambula Parish own the grounds, valued at $100,000, and are giving the Friends of Kiah Hall the first opportunity to purchase the site, for a price of $88,000.

The committee met with Bega Valley Shire Council on Tuesday, July 7 to discuss how best to proceed and Ms McMahon said results have been positive.

"When the new pavilion is finished council will call a community meeting to discuss rebuilding the hall and they are exploring some of the legal aspects of acquiring the church land."

Friends of Kiah Hall are seeking donations to help them rebuild the hall once the site has been secured.

"We are also seeking feedback or confirmation from the community about use of the spaces, there has been some talk of a community garden being created on the old hall site.

"It's really exciting to think of the opportunities ahead of us, whatever we do now is for the young people coming along," Ms McMahon said.

Friends of Kiah Hall Committee will gratefully receive any donations, no matter how big or small - contact claremah@dragnet.com.au or 6496 1364 for more details.